Activity Based Work Meets Millennials' Demands and Expectations in the Workplace
As the Millennial segment of the workforce has grown, so has the trend of open office plans and activity based work. It’s no coincidence that one of the ways companies have sought to attract Millennial workers is by redesigning their offices and creating swanky new environments. But is that strategy really working, and how?
What Is a Millennial?
According to Pew Research Center, Millennials were born between 1981 and 1996, making them 22 - 37 years old today. By 2020, Millennials will make up 50% of the workforce.
There are a lot of assumptions, generalizations, and myths about Millennials, specifically about Millennials in the workplace. We’re going to address (and debunk) some of them here and discuss how activity based work suits not just Millennials, but the rest of your employees as well.
Generalization 1: Millennials want flexibility
This one is true! According to a Deloitte survey, 88% of Millennial workers want greater flexibility to start and end their work days when they choose, and 75% want to work remotely from home or other locations where they feel most productive.
Generalization 2: You need lots of crazy perks and trendy office design to attract Millennials
Yes and no. Millennials do seem to be driving more companies to offer unique perks and benefits aside from health insurance and 401(k) plans—from ping-pong tables to on-site dry cleaning and yoga. It's true, studies show employees may accept lower salaries in exchange for a better working environment and a positive company culture. But salary is still a top factor they consider when looking for a job, and “positive company culture” means more than just game nights and happy hours. After salary and benefits, Millennials prioritize things like work/life balance, a sense of purpose or meaning in their work, and opportunities to progress or take on leadership roles.
Generalization 3: Millennials don’t show loyalty to their employers
Millennials have been called “job-hoppers” who are eager to jump on board with the next shiny thing…and shine always loses its luster after a year or two, right? But in fact, research from the Bureau of Labor Statistics has found that average employee tenure in 2016 increased from 1983 (3.5 years to 4.6 years), and other studies have found that on average, new hires intend or at least hope to stay with their employer for several years.
If Millennials are job-hopping, it’s more likely because they’re still looking for an employer who provides that sense of purpose and nurtures their career development and leadership skills—not one that offers better breakroom snacks.
Activity Based Workplaces are More Likely to Offer What Millennials are Looking for
One of the promises activity based work makes is flexibility for employees. They are empowered to choose where and when they work according to their preferences, work patterns, and natural rhythms. Surprisingly to some, Millennials want quiet, private spaces to work as much as other generations—not just wide open office plans—and activity based workplaces offer that. Millennials also understand the value of interaction and collaboration, and many are looking to build strong connections with coworkers. Activity based workplaces facilitate that as well.
Get Millennials’ Loyalty
Millennials tend to look for workplaces that offer career advancement opportunities and the chance to develop leadership skills. Activity based workplaces make it easy for employers to offer that in two significant ways.
First, creative spaces or collaboration breakout rooms are ideal spaces to host “lunch and learn” events where employees are given the opportunity to learn new things about your industry or develop skills. The Deloitte study found that loyal employees feel their employer is invested in providing support and training for career advancement.
Second, when senior management and those in leadership positions are working side-by-side with entry-level workers, mentor-mentee relationships are given the chance to develop and flourish.
When companies are trying to attract Millennial workers, they may fall into the trap of making promises they can’t keep—especially about the perks and benefits they’re willing or able to offer. Luckily, with activity based work, you can adopt the practices that make the most sense for your company in stages, so in most cases, you can offer something to Millennials, whether it’s the option to work remotely or a dedicated collaboration room. Just be upfront about what you can and can’t offer.
Activity Based Work Benefits Everyone
Millennials are driving the activity based working trend, but we don’t think it’s “just a trend.” Activity based work has staying power because it’s about enabling everyone, no matter their age, to do their work better. Keep this in mind when implementing activity based work practices and communicating its value to all your employees.